Dear Fellow Parishioners,
I keep wanting to get back to my series describing the Mass and its parts, but each week some topic comes up that I think needs a bit of special attention. This week is no different.
Mass Intentions. Just as any person can pray for another person, or for a particular intention, the Church as a whole is able to intercede for us through the celebration of the Mass. Moreover, since the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life” the Mass possesses a power that our personal prayers do not.
When a priest celebrates Mass, he offers each celebration of the Eucharist for a particular person, or intention. He prays to apply these special graces from God upon that person or intention, usually specified by the person requesting the Mass intention.
At St. Vincent’s, these Mass intentions are usually published in the parish bulletin and announced at each Mass with these or similar words: “This Mass is being offered for the repose of the soul of John Doe” or “This Mass is being offered for the intentions of Mary Doe.”
The practice of offering Mass for particular intentions is an ancient one, dating back to at least the 2nd century. Usually, these requested intentions are accompanied with an offering to contribute to the good of the Church and the support of its ministers. However, the offering is not for the Mass itself, but to supply the things necessary for the support of the Church and its ministers, and the conditions necessary for the celebration of the Eucharist. Bluntly stated, making an offering for a Mass intention is not “selling graces” or “buying a Mass.”
The pastor is required to offer one Sunday Mass per week “pro populo,” that is, “for the people” of the parish, living and deceased. The purpose of this intention is to apply the graces of that Mass to all living and deceased members of this parish who may not otherwise be able to request an intention on their own behalf. While I have been offering this as a personal intention, from now on, it will be an announced intention each week. It will be the only announced intention for that Mass, and will be offered at various Mass times so that all parishioners will have a turn to be present for that intention.
Second, here at St. Vincent’s we have many requests for announced personalized Mass intentions, some of them scheduled weeks (or months) into the future. Unsurprisingly, there are multiple requests for special holidays, like Christmas, Easter and other holidays. From now on, all holiday Masses will be offered “pro populo” – that is, collectively for all parishioners, living and deceased, and their intentions. Since we have far more requests on special holidays than we can accommodate, personal announced Mass intentions for those few days will be discontinued, except in the most exceptional of circumstances. In this way, all parishioners can participate equally in the graces of those special celebrations.
Fr. Bill Donahue
Dear Fellow Parishioners,